God's Tongue Meets Devil's Son
Wow, it's been a while since I had the muse for this fic, but thanks to Le Dessert, I think I have it back, at least somewhat. I'm a bit unsure whether I should focus on Erina's POV or a mix of her and Soma, so any suggestions would be welcome.
Note: I'm taking a few liberties with the timeline of events in the manga/anime and saying that the Shokugeki from the previous chapters happened between Souma's welcome to Polar Star, and his first official canon Shokugeki with Nikumi. There is a reason for this.
Disclaimer: Shokugeki so Soma belongs to Shun Saeki and Yuki Morisaki.
Co-written by Tremor230
It had been two days since Souma's victory against Kawajima Shukaku and the teen had spent the time utilizing the budget provided to him by Erina's assistant to furnish the kitchen space that he had been given after his defeat of the Gourmet Revitalization Group and continue working on refining the skills he learned in his classes and those he had picked working with his father at Yukihira's. News of his victory and him having the support of the Tenth Seat of the Elite Ten Council spread through the school like wildfire and the whisperings about whether or not he belonged here at Tootsuki were replaced by ones wondering just how much talent he still had hidden away.
Soma was currently sitting in the kitchen area that he had been working to furnish, negotiating with Hisako, Erina's aide, about a new piece of equipment he had wanted to order for his kitchen.
"Are you sure you don't want one? It would be the best available on the market and still be inside the limits Miss Erina gave you, you are working at half the budget you were given!" Erina's personal assistant said, unsure about Soma's request.
"I recognize the value of having the best gear and all that, but I prefer more mundane ways of cooking," Soma answered with a jovial smile while finishing cleaning the top of the table he had worked on, "though if you could find a good quality Shichirin, I'll be happy to take that."
"Then is that why do you use such...common, ingredients?" she asked.
"Why should I waste luxury ingredients for training? And even then, the quality of ingredients helps only so much, at a certain point you also need skills, otherwise you are just hiding behind money." the young man answered with a shrug.
"Are you sure?" asked Hisako quizzically.
"You liked the Takoyaki I prepared, right?" Soma asked with crossed arms, surprising the girl with his change of subject.
"Y-Yes..." Hisako answered with a shy blush, remembering how 'unladylike' she had been while wolfing them down.
"I made them with discount ingredients, nothing stellar, and I still got to my goal: you enjoyed them."
"B-But you were preparing food for a friend!"
"For friends or for Shokugeki, I put in my dishes the same amount of care and skills." he answered, with a goofy smile.
Hisako was about to say more, but they were interrupted by an attractive girl with short blond hair wearing a revealing outfit with a butcher's knife strapped to her leg.
"So, you're the new Transfer Student that everyone's talking about?" asked the girl.
"Yukihira Soma," said Soma, "and people are talking about me? Good talking?"
"Not in the slightest," said the girl with a smirk.
"Oh..." at that the young chef deflated a little.
"Were you expecting fans?" asked the blond with a raised eyebrow.
"No, but I hoped to get more challenges, I did try to rile them up for that." he admitted with a sigh.
"More challenges?" asked the blond, "The one against that girl from the bento club I heard about, but you're looking for more?"
"I like a challenge," said Soma with a smile.
"Erina-sama mentioned you," said the girl, "she said you were good, almost as good as her, so I wanted to see for myself."
"Erina-chan said that?" asked Soma with a chuckle.
"Erina...chan?" the girl repeated, dumbfounded.
"Soma-san and Erina-sama are childhood friends, very close," said Hisako.
"Really?!" the blond exclaimed in surprise.
"That is correct," said Hisako, "and I must admit that I am still surprised myself."
Soma frowned, "I'm right here you know."
"Right," said the blond, "Sorry about that. The name's Mito Ikumi. I specialize it high quality meat dishes with all of the best ingredients."
"Well," said Soma, "it's nice to meet you. I'd introduce myself, but it seems you already know who I am."
"So," said Ikumi, "I'd like to see what you're made of. Everyone's talking about that dish you made Chapelle-sensei in class, and it piqued my interest."
"Oh that?" asked Soma, "It was just something I improvised to meet the deadline, nothing I haven't done before."
"Well then," said Ikumi, "I'd like you to make me something."
"Eh?" said Soma in confusion.
"I want to see what kinds of skills have caught Erina-sama's eye," said Ikumi, "I'd like to try your cooking."
"Why not?" said Soma with a smile as he thought what dish to serve before coming to a conclusion, "Well, since you specialize in meat, I'll make you something special. I think I know just the dish."
Soma quickly tied his bandana on and donned an apron before firing up the stove in his cooking space. Gathering some ingredients from storage, he began to work, peeling several potatoes and washing them before cutting them into quarters and setting them in a steamer. As the potatoes steamed, Soma gathered and minced several mushrooms and onions before grabbing a pan and frying them.
As Soma worked, Ikumi watched him curiously, wondering what he could be making with the ingredients he was preparing, though she did raise an eyebrow as he pulled out strips of thick cut bacon and began wrapping it around the food before shoving the whole thing in the oven.
"Yukihira Soma," said Ikumi from where she sat as she watched his process, "what exactly are you making?"
"Well you said you specialized in meat, right?" asked Soma as he tied twine around the bacon wrapped potatoes and placed it in an oven to cook.
"Yes," said Ikumi, "my family's business conglomerate, the Mito Zaibatsu is known for its distribution of high-quality meats, so it's only fitting that I know meats in and out."
"Hm," mused Soma as he worked, "you know, sometimes you can't just focus on the quality of your ingredients and the emphasis on meat when making a good dish. A good meal requires a balance of all its ingredients."
"You seem sure of yourself, Yukihira-san," said Hisako.
"Yup," said Soma, "you can't always rely on high class ingredients in a pinch, and sometimes they are a hinderance too."
"We'll see," said Ikumi as Soma checked on his dish in the oven.
Soma cooked in silence for the next few minutes, until he eventually pulled a sizzling dish from the oven and poured a sauce he prepared over it, "Right, here's a special Yukihira Menu item: Gotcha Pork Roast."
"Gotcha?" said Ikumi with a frown, "And you called this Pork Roast? Didn't you just wrap bacon around the potatoes you were cooking?"
"Just try it and you'll see," said Soma, "you too Arato. Feel free to dig in."
Ikumi shrugged and picked up a knife, raising an eyebrow at the juicy quality of the meat as she cut portions for both her and Hisako. As the two girls bit into their pieces, their eyes widened and they couldn't suppress a moan of delight as the flavors danced across their palette. The potatoes were mashed perfectly and had absorbed the juices that had seeped from the thick cut bacon, giving them a wonderful new flavor, and the bacon itself was cooked perfectly as well, crispy, but not burnt, while still maintaining the its thick juiciness. The mushrooms mixed within the potatoes and the accompanying sauce brought the dish to even further heights and the two of them quickly finished their portions with relish.
"Impressive," said Ikumi.
"Yup," said Soma, "and it wouldn't be possible if I had gone for the high-class ingredients. The expensive bacon doesn't have the right levels of oils or the right flavor to make this dish such a success, and the dish isn't carried by the meat alone, the potatoes also contribute to carrying the flavor to its fullest potential."
"You do have a point," said Ikumi before pausing, "I have a Shokugeki against the Don Research Society in a few days," she said hesitantly, "if its not too much trouble, maybe you could help me prepare?"
Soma thought for a moment before giving a big smile, "Sure thing."
"So, they are working hard?" Erina asked later, having arrived for a progress report from Hisako.
"Yes, Yukihira-san seems adamant in having Mito-san branch-out, though." Hisako answered, unsure.
"Branch-out?" asked Erina.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'You are a one-trick Pony'?!" Ikumi's voice yelled out in anger from inside the Kitchen, causing the two of them to go and see what was wrong.
"Well, I never saw you prepare anything not meat-related...and you know how to prepare a damn good rice for the Donburi...so why not trying with some sushi? Or any fish-related dish for that matter." Soma asked.
"FISH?! ME?! I am the Heiress of the Mito Zaibatsu!" the girl yelled, looking too indignant to even just comprehend the notion.
"You shouldn't limit yourself, you know?" said Soma, "What if you are challenged to a fish-themed Shokugeki?"
"It will never happen." Mito answered stubbornly with an annoyed huff.
"You can't always choose the theme, and a good Chef can prepare anything," the young man countered.
"This changes nothing!"
"I thought you wanted me to help you, Nikumi?"
"What...what did you call me?!" Ikumi hissed.
"W-W-What's with that horrid nickname?!"
"Come on! It's cute! Especially if you write it in kanji!"
"C-C-C-Cute?!" Ikumi yelled, with a flustered look on her face
"Uh-huh!" the young man admitted.
"...cute?" not too far away from the two, Erina muttered with her eyes briefly narrowing into two thin slits.
"Erina-sama?" Hisako asked, confused.
"Is she always dressed like that?" Erina asked, only in that moment really noticing the tight bikini top and outrageously short shorts Ikumi was wearing.
"It's her cooking attire. You know this..." her assistant answered.
"That should only be used for Shokugeki, I expect her to cover up when she is not in the arena, especially when she is here." Erina answered with ice-cold tone that made Hisako shiver.
"But before now-"
"Before was before, Now is now!" Erina answered firmly.
"Hai!" said Hisako a bit nervously.
"W-W-W-WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" Ikumi shrieked when Soma moved behind her to grab her hands while lying his chin on her shoulder.
"Uh? I am helping you filet this fish." the young man answered in a confused tone.
"I-I-I can do that!" stammered Ikumi, "How do you think I got here?! I know how to cook!"
"I just wanted to help..." Soma answered with a childish pout as he stepped away.
"Erina-sama, these papers need to be signed, they are about Ikumi-san workstation and the expected expenses to move everything here." Hisako said while giving Erina a pen and a clipboard.
While still looking straight at both Soma and Ikumi, that somehow have yet to notice she had arrived, the girl signed those papers hard enough to tear the paper to shreds and snap the pen in her hands in two.
"EH?!" the sharp sound seemed to break some sort of trance as Erina's eyes re-focused, and the girl finally noticed what she was doing.
"Bring me a new copy and a new pen, Hisako." Erina said while looking at the mess in her hands with a surprised expression, as if those were not her hands to begin with.
"Hai, Erina-sama," Hisako answered promptly, and tactfully not mentioning what happened.
"Ah! Erina-chan! I didn't see you there! How are you?" Soma asked.
"Everything is okay, Yukihira-kun..." She answered.
'Yukihira-kun?...YUKIHIRA-KUN?!' Ikumi thought in shock at seeing the boy chat amicably with Erina as if that was something normal.
"I am happy to see that you are enjoying being in my faction," Erina declared with a smile.
"I do, even if I still feel a bit uncertain about what you are doing." Soma admitted.
"I am not doing this to crush anybody's dreams. I told you the motives to my methods," she answered.
"I know, I know," said Soma, "I trust you."
"As you should," she replied, sounding a tad smug before leveling a cool gaze upon Ikumi, "as for you...Mito-san."
"Y-Yes?" Ikumi said, gulping a little in dread at the intense gaze Erina leveled on her.
"I decided to move your workstation here, as I am cutting-down redundant facilities and do not wish to be seen as a hypocrite. Your station will be situated there," Erina stated while pointing at the opposite side of the room, pretty far from Soma's own place.
"That far?" asked Soma.
"So you two won't have to stand so close to each other, we have more than enough space here," explained Erina.
"Oh, okay." Ikumi answered, a bit unnerved by the unnatural cold tone.
"We will also install dull glass walls to separate your workstation from Yukihira-kun's, so light will enter but you two won't mix...aromas of your dishes." Erina added.
Hisako and Ikumi noticed the strange pause between 'mix' and 'aromas', but were smart enough to not comment on it.
"Why dull glass?" Soma asked.
"So light will still enter, but you won't get distracted by looking at each other."
"You don't want us to compare notes?" Soma asked, confused.
"Yes, but will be done in my personal office with me present, I will always be present so to help as well." She answered.
"Oh, okay," shrugged Soma.
"Good!" said Erina, "I know my methods seem unreasonable, but I can help you get to the top in exchange of your help."
"I thought YOU wanted to be the one standing at the top." Soma asked with a smirk and crossed arms.
"When the time comes, we will battle for it the proper way, but until then: Please be my knife, and in exchange I will become your whetstone. We will both climb the ranks together, until the First and Second Seats are ours," Erina answered.
"I'll trust you." Soma said while presenting his hand.
"Your hand..." Hisako tried saying while pointing at the sheen of dirt still on his hand.
"And I trust you, Yukihira-kun." Erina answered, pleased, while shaking the hand of the young man.
To be continued…